Letters to the Editor, November 13, 2014
I READ with interest the articles in last week’s edition of the Mercury which showed how Weston frontline services had missed out on £55million of Government ie taxpayers’, money and revealing another huge shortfall in police funding for the region.
I for one can recollect weekends in Weston when officers from four separate police forces had to be bussed in to try and restore public order.
In July of this year, the Coalition Government appointed another Conservative MP, Penny Mordaunt, as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for coastal communities at the Department for Communities and Local Government. In spite or perhaps because of this cosy arrangement, Weston failed to receive any of the £8million that the Government lavished on other seaside resorts. When is Weston going to receive any recognition from Central Government? In one of those articles, the Mercury printed a photograph of our current MP, John Penrose, apparently grinning at the news. Is that an appropriate response to the keen sense of disappointment and anger we feel? Am I alone in thinking that the Government and the Conservative Party are taking our acquiescence and our votes for granted?
Of course, the Government can always take Mr Penrose’s vote for granted. In the 9.5 years he has sat in the House of Commons, he has only ever toed the party line. Now we have witnessed the consequences of his slavish obedience to his party. His voting record may have advanced his political career, but it has done precious little for his constituents and it confirms Mr Penrose, if confirmation were needed, as a career politician. What does he do for Weston? When are we going to get an MP who actually cares about Weston?
These and many other local issues, highlighted week after week in this paper, demonstrate all too clearly how both national and local government have conspired to neglect and marginalise our town to the detriment of its residents. In May of next year, my family and I and many of my friends and acquaintances shall certainly not be voting for Mr Penrose or his party.
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I AM writing direct in response to your front page article entitled ‘Taxi poppy row leads to revenge attacks’. Firstly may I urge restraint on all sides as this is as yet, unproven. As the person privileged to lay the wreath at the Grove Park Ceremony Of Remembrance on Sunday and someone touched by family tragedy in both world wars, I am deeply committed to the remembrance of the fallen of all faiths who fought to preserve freedom and democracy. The incredible turnout and beautifully conducted ceremony demonstrated Weston’s commitment to Remembrance Sunday.
It is this, and the many local issues, highlighted week after week in this paper, with Weston neglected by the current “regime”, constantly losing out on Government funding, effective job creation, etc, etc, that has led me to stand in Weston as your Prospective Member of Parliament in 2015 as I feel a stark choice has to be made between party ‘yes men’, concerned only with their political careers, and a real democratic voice for Weston-SUPER-Mare via an MP who is not ‘whipped’ into supporting bad laws, by their party.
West Street, Weston
THE Mercury is right that Weston has a problem with the Government at Westminster, and that Weston has been at the sharp edge of a funding gap.
Part of the trouble is that, viewed from Whitehall, Weston is a far away place of which Whitehall knows very little, and cares less. From Whitehall’s end of the telescope, North Somerset, as a whole, is a wealthy area which can look after its own. That masks Weston’s particular problems, and its areas of deprivation, and assumes a fair distribution of resources between Weston and the rest of North Somerset. It ignores how North Somerset seems to see Weston as a milch cow on one hand, and somewhere to dump its problems on the other.
If Weston and its hinterland formed a district in their own right, Weston’s needs would be made more obvious to Central Government without being seen through the distorting lens of North Somerset Council. The sooner North Somerset, north of Yatton, is absorbed into Greater Bristol, and Winterstoke (our half of Weston Town Region) reverts to Somerset the better.
Priory Road, Weston
RON Ellis was quite right to remind us last week of the significance of Remembrance Sunday.
It is a rare and special moment in the year for us to honour the memory of all those who fell in two world wars and further conflicts since then. But it is also necessary to remember the contribution that troops from all corners of the Commonwealth, of many faiths and races, also made to the defence of democracy and truth. And we should not forget brave individuals like Raoul Wallenberg, Nicholas Winton and others who ignored their own safety to save many thousands of Jewish refugees from extermination.
By the sacrifice of so many, the rest of us have all enjoyed an unprecedented period of freedom, security and prosperity. And, of course, this has been made possible by belonging to a thriving and successful European community, first proposed in 1946 by Winston Churchill when he called for a ‘kind of United States of Europe’.
But, more recently, the honourable values that so many died to defend have been suborned for far more sinister motives. For example, the recent hi-jacking of the red poppy, iconic emblem of sacrifice, by the far-right Britain First organisation has offended many who oppose everything that group stands for. And UKIP has just allied itself with Poland’s Congress of the New Right, whose leader has a history of Holocaust denial, racist remarks and misogynistic attitudes.
In a climate of growing disillusionment with conventional party politics, we should all still be on our guard against those who offer easy solutions to complex, difficult issues. As the saying goes ‘those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them’.
Church Road, Winscombe
THROUGHOUT history, there were large-scale wars which blighted the lives of millions of people every generation.
These grew in size until, with ever better forms of armaments; they could truly be described as world wars. However, since the end of the 1940s, although there have been many large scale wars, but none of them could be classed as world wars. Why?
Hard as it will be for many people to accept, the reason for this was the invention of atomic weapons. Suddenly, a new weapon, potentially capable of enormous damage and destruction in the wrong hands, was available, fortunately on our side.
In 1945, the Japanese were threatening Australia and other countries. Britain and America threatened Japan with this weapon if they refused to cooperate. Twice they refused, and paid the price, but that was enough. They saw sense and the world has been more or less free from these weapons ever since, but smaller wars will always be with us I guess.
Ringwood Grove, Weston
THERE are two sides to every story. The ‘dangerous dog’ called Boy, that I and my Labrador knew was a gentle, affectionate creature.
His tragedy was that he had his chase instinct magnified and encouraged so that men could bet on the outcome of a race. He was re-homed to save him from the appalling way that ex-greyhounds are treated when their racing days are over and they are of no monetary advantage to their owners.
He was re-homed with a gentle responsible lady who had spent her working life helping others as a nurse in our hospital. Sadly she was not an experienced dog owner and was not quick to recognise that destructive chase instinct and curb it.
I last saw Boy a few days before, in Ellenborough Park, off the lead, playing happily with his friend Moss, a collie, and Dougie a Labrador. Also in the park were several parents and small children, other dogs including a rottweiler-cross and a terrier, all off lead and OK, enjoying their walk and games. No problem to anyone.
Poor Boy was the victim of his racing training and well-meaning re-homing. No-one spoke up for him as the deed was done before any of his friends knew about it and could put the other side of the story.
Farewell lovely Boy.
JANE SAKER AND DOUGIE
Underwood Avenue, Weston
LOCAL history is best unearthed by careful research of source material, which allows you to get an idea of what was going on, and gradually being able to sift out fact from fiction.
It is not, under any circumstances, acceptable to grab a few unrelated claims off the internet and then tweak them to suit your own personal obsessions or biased opinions.
Some of the recent correspondence about local history in this area has been unadulterated rubbish and I wish that those concerned would take up something harmless like stamp collecting.
There comes a point where this stuff interferes with genuine research as people get misinformed about basics. So I am throwing in a couple of relevant points.
The earliest specific reference (so far) to Weston-super-Mare is from (1314) when the bishop wrote to all the Somerset parishes and had to differentiate between the several Westons.
The ‘super-Mare’ used is simply a description of the church of St John which stands ‘above the sea.’
Hobbs Boat Inn was the site of the old Axe ferry that was owned and run by Mr Hobbs circa 1670.
Uphill was opopylle in Domesday 1087, but as the site was being used 1,000 before that who knows what that was when started out.
This is probably a losing battle on my part, as I now hear of school teachers getting things off Wikipedia that they then pass on to students as facts, but after all the hard work put in by me and colleagues I’m not going down without a fight.
Alma Street, Weston
I THANK Robert Craig for putting forward his case for the Anglo Saxons’ responsibility for our language.
I have a great admiration for the Anglo Saxon leaders who made England an integrated country, well organised and wealthy. However their language is not ours. The Romans (say 40,000 of them) subjugated England (minimum two million people) for 400 years and had an official language of Latin. The Iron Age inhabitants (Celts?) spoke, let’s call it English.
The Saxons soldiers subjugated England and also had an official written Saxon language but the natives could not write and carried on speaking English.
The Normans (25,000 men) got rid of this Saxon aristocracy and the official written language became French. The natives carried on speaking English. After 300 years the French-speaking leavers became assimilated, giving up on France and written English appears as spoken by the natives, that apart from spelling is very similar to the language we still speak 700 years later.
We now have the biggest vocabulary because our tongue is English plus Latin plus Saxon, (plus a bit of Viking) plus French. The language of Western ‘Celts’ Wales, Cornwall and North West Scotland has hardly affected us.
Recent DNA analysis of England bears this out, we are mainly Iron Age and only 10 per cent Danish/Anglo Saxon
Palmer Row, Weston
I HAVE just received a copy of the North Somerset Life publication and read of the Christmas lights switch-on festival fun on Thursday November 27.
However, anyone not in the know would assume that North Somerset Council (NSC) is responsible for this event whilst the fact of the matter is that the Christmas lights and the switch-on ceremony is funded entirely by Weston Town Council (and hence Weston ratepayers) with help from the BID.
As far as I am aware, NSC contributes nothing to this festive event nor to the on-going costs of powering and maintaining the illuminations.
Blowing your own trumpet is one thing. Giving the impression that you are responsible for something you’ve contributed nothing to is something else.
Elmsleigh Road, Weston
READING the letter from Jeremy Norton about fireworks I was reminded of my childhood days when Bonfire Night was celebrated on just one day – November 5th – and not over several weeks.
We used to spend the half term holiday weekend building a small bonfire, making a guy and then sit outside the front gate asking for a penny for the guy. Sometimes we asked for a shilling (5p in modern terms) and with this money we brought a small box of fireworks and a few rockets. Then on the big day we would have supervised fun whilst the adults mainly stayed indoors with a few drinks. This was the tradition and pet owners were asked on the radio to keep their animals indoors for the duration. How things have changed and as Jeremy mentions, fireworks are let off without any respect for pets or their owners.
Of course organised firework displays are fine because they last for a short period of time and are spectacular but it is the selfish attitude of those who let off fireworks discriminately that causes all the problems.
Clarence Grove Road, Weston
SO, NOW the town council is at it. Uphill Civic Society cannot use the storage space in the local loo in case someone decides they fancy a swig of bleach.
What gets into these decision-makers? They appear to spend so much time and effort running scared of health and safety that they lose sight of their objectives, which I believe are to improve the quality of life for the local population and not to act as wet blankets just in case, as Councillor Crew seems so fearful, that it (the town council) could be held liable.
Come on, get real. Have you ever smelt bleach? Do you not think that any right-minded person could mistake bleach for lemonade or water. Ah! Maybe they have no sense of smell. So label the bottle bleach Ah, maybe they can’t read either.
Cllr Crew was at pains to point out that seven or eight years ago a council employee ‘picked up what they thought was lemonade and it was bleach’. Obviously this was the guy who had lost his sense of smell, taste and ability to read and had missed the seminar on health and safety in public toilets.
Surely the easy, sensible answer to the problem would be for the Civic Society to sign a waiver of responsibility.
The residents of this once proud town are getting increasingly fed up with the petty officials who are running scared of their own shadows.
It is time for Westonians to look to those who have a passion for the area and share their real concerns and are prepared to do something about it.
Local elections are on the horizon. Let’s take that opportunity to make a change for the better.
Old Mill Way, Weston
NOT long ago there stood at the corner of Locking Road and Ashcombe Road a pleasant white villa of, one would guess, mid-Victorian date.
In Bath it would have been nothing, but in Weston it should have been valued.
As if Weston did not have enough dreary Edwardian buildings, it has now been replaced with a dreary neo-Edwardian one.
And this, I suppose, the council calls planning.
REFERENCE your item on speed enforcement in Weston (Mercury November 6). As a resident of Congresbury I have this week witnessed two serious accidents at junctions in Congresbury on the A370.
This is now practically a weekly occurrence (without even including the road incidents at the Tesco Express) and everyone in the village agree it’s only a matter of time before people are killed.
In my opinion there would be no division of opinion should the constabulary’s speed enforcement unit put in an appearance by way of raising awareness and as a deterrent towards speeding.
I am copying Congresbury Parish Council in the hope it will write to the said unit.
Chestnut Close, Congresbury
IT WAS reported recently in the Mercury that when a director of Hallam Land Management met villagers and parish councillors in Yatton he admitted that “development will add to problems.”
He also said that Hallam Land Management has promised to provide money to improve health, education and traffic provisions, however, it is very unlikely that developers would provide enough money to solve the problems caused by large development schemes.
As Speedwatch has already recorded more than 900 vehicles passing through Yatton High Street during the hours of 8am and 9am, will a bypass from Arnolds Way to Congresbury be the only way to cope with the increased traffic when it reaches a dangerous level due to major development?
Would the developers pay the cost of a road bridge overt the main railway line at Yatton?
In addition to this problem, will developers provide the payment for a new school to be built for all the additional pupils and for the health centre at Yatton to be extended or for new premises to be built to cope with all the new patients?
A recent statement made on behalf of the Department for Communities and Local Government made it clear that its planning policy is intended “to strike a sensible balance between enabling sustainable development and conserving and enhancing the natural environment.”
If the total of Bloor Homes and Hallam Land Management dwellings is accepted in an area where there is already a lack of local facilities and other serious problems, Yatton would become a town and the natural environment would be completely destroyed.
R V WATHEN
Chescombe Road, Yatton
I STOOD amongst the crowds lining the seafront on November 7. The weather was throwing everything at us, gusting winds and driving rain.
Although we were all very wet, everyone was determined to stand fast. Umbrellas were being turned inside out and the hot drinks containers remained full no matter how many sips you took. The crowds remained in good humour.
Children huddled under their parents coats, the pushchairs were fastened tightly as the small child inside played contently with their light sabre or illuminated spinning wheels. The high winds blew my hat off and each time some kind person went and collected it and it was passed from person to person until it was safely on my head again until the next high wind that is.
The floats arrived and everyone was delighted and pleased that they stuck it out. Cheers and donations seemed to come from everyone. The children’s eyes lit up, the police were wonderful and joined in with the full carnival spirit. As one float passed by, I saw the children sitting in the front of their van, I assume due to the bad weather and then I saw a WPC carrying one of the children’s props so that there was no gap in their parade. It was wonderful to see.
Although all the carnivals are fantastic each year, for me this will be the best and most memorable because of the people that were not going to be put off by gales or high seas. All of our guests mentioned how wonderful the evening was and said they would be attending next year. That was just what I wanted to hear.
Well done to everyone who took part.
Milton Lodge Guest House, Milton Road, Weston
WE WERE delighted to read in last week’s Mercury that the Saigon Restaurant was celebrating its 15 years anniversary.
In the current climate, it is wonderful that a business has managed to survive for so long. This speaks volumes for the management.
We would like to add our endorsement to this wonderful restaurant which has become our favourite place to eat over many years. We have also had family and friends from North Wales and London who always ask to go to the Saigon for a meal when they are staying with us.
Minh and his delightful wife have always made us feel very welcome and nothing has been too much trouble for them.
We would strongly urge the people of Weston and surrounding district to support this lovely couple. You will be assured of a warm welcome, superb food, lovely ambience and we are sure that once you have tried the cuisine, you will come back again.
S SMITH AND N BODDINGTON
Brunel Close, Bleadon Hill
MAY I through your newspaper extend a huge thank you to all those people who helped to make this year’s Remembrance Parade and Service such a special occasion.
The numbers attending the parade and service were extraordinary, especially the amount of young citizens in the many uniformed organisations, who came out in force, to support the Royal British Legion veterans and pay their respects to the fallen. I have never seen so many people in Grove Park on Remembrance Day.
I would like to thank each and every person who made the effort to attend the parade and service. Everyone who had a part to play in the ceremony was extremely smart and they all performed their tasks with the utmost respect, pride and care.
May I also compliment everyone who attended, for the wonderful way the two minutes silence was observed, the total stillness in Grove Park added extra poignancy to the ceremony.
A tremendous amount of work goes on behind the scenes to make an event like this work and I would like to extend my thanks to everyone involved for the part they played. Unfortunately there are too many too mention individually in this short space but on behalf of myself and the citizens of Weston a very, very, big thank you.
It was a privilege to be with you.
SQN LDR G R HAWKES RET’D
Parade commander 2014 for Weston Branch
Royal British Legion
Technical Centre, Nova Way, Avonmouth
WE WERE lucky enough to win competition tickets to see Des O’Connor at the Playhouse.
We enjoyed the evening very much. Thank you.
ROBERT AND IRIS TAYLOR
Quantock Road, Weston
I WOULD like to say a big thank you to the Mercury.
Through winning your competition in the newspaper I spent a wonderful evening at the Bristol Hippodrome in excellent seats, watching one of my favourite ballets, Coppelia, with a full orchestra playing beautiful music, it was truly a lovely night.
As a local newspaper, I think you provide some great competitions and prizes, and your news on local events is the best. Well done.
Milton Road, Weston
THE good - junction 21 what a major improvement.
Compared to junction 19, Portishead, which on a recent trip was a one mile long almost stationary traffic jam in the slow lane of M5, just as junction 21 used to be.
On that trip Junction 21 flowed smoothly into Worle at the busy time of 5.30pm.
The bad: North Somerset Council’s failure to empty waste bins, the bin are regularly overflowing with dog poo waste every couple of weeks. Why? The council removed local dog poo bins, apparently to save money. At what cost? Children’s eyesight could be at risk with all this faeces lying on the ground.
The council can fine us £500 for not picking up dog poo, we should be able to fine the council for not taking it away. Or reduce our council tax bill.
The ugly: The monstrosity of a building the council appear to have apparently secretly planned to add to the beautiful Weston seafront Winter Gardens and for student accommodation.
Most definitely not the right place, this will cause another reduction in visitors in the future. So thanks for junction 21 but no thanks for ruining the visitors experience at Weston seafront.
What do you do in Weston-not-so-super Mare on a wet day? Visit the pier then go elsewhere for a real holiday.
These councillors and John Penrose MP (Can you believe he was previously our Tourism and Heritage Minister) should be voted out in May 2015 for allowing what appears to be secret planning meetings which will destroy the seafront holiday attractions, not forgetting the Tropicana, the demolition of Dolphin Square and the loss of potential holiday attractions on Knightstone Island of course.
MR J LEWIS
Warwick Close, Weston
I WOULD just like to point out a factual inaccuracy in a story in last weeks Weston Mercury.
The story is about the Grand Pier half-marathon, but it refers to the event as the Weston half-marathon.
This is the third year the Grand Pier has sponsored the half-marathon and we did so on the basis that it starts and finishes at the attraction. Our considerable sponsorship enabled the half-marathon to return to the town after many years’ absence.
Public relations manager
Grand Pier, Weston